Museums Of The Caribbean

September 6, 2012


A couple of weeks ago we looked at some of the Caribbean’s most interesting fortresses in our Forts Of The Caribbean piece, so this week we’ve decided to focus on the region’s fascinating museums…

Romantic sunsets, endless powdery-sand beaches, seas of blue and museums. All that and more are waiting for you on your Caribbean cruise. Yes, that is correct – museums. Often overlooked and rarely included in what to enjoy during your sailing in this tropical paradise, these cultural mirrors can offer you an up-close and unique perspective of a port call.

Depending on your interests and curiosity, a Caribbean museum visit can enrich your cruise experience and offer added fun for the entire family. Immerse yourself in the history, art and all that makes this region of the world so special, with each island boasting a unique cultural perspective and heritage. Learn more about the people who live on these beautiful islands and how today’s society and their way of life. They will make for a fabulous and interesting dinner discussion.

Imagine the kids’ delight at entering the magical Pirates of Nassau Museum, housing recreations of pirate life, considered by many to be the most authentic of its kind.

Straw museum in Nassau

Step back in time to Nassau’s “Golden Age of Piracy,” from 1690 to 1720, as you enter the world of bloodthirsty pirates. Discover life at sea for pirates with sleeping hammocks, stowed cannons and exhibits of real artifacts, including flintlock pistols and cutlasses. Located by the Straw Market on Bay Street, this unique museum is a must-see for families. Offering a unique glimpse into Nassau’s past, the interactive museum also features a 200-year-old slave kitchen and 150-year-old loft house. Highlighting the visit is the opportunity to be a “stowaway” on a replica ship called the “Revenge,” a fabulous experience for the family to share.

Occupying a Georgian-style building, the Museum of Nevis History offers an added bonus during a St. Kitts port call. Visiting here will give you a feel for this small island, as well as the chance to learn about American history, as this is also the actual site where Alexander Hamilton, one of the country’s Founding Fathers, was born in 1757. Boasting photos of Nevis during historical periods, the delightful museum, which is housed in a lovely Georgian-style building, captures the island’s culture and history, under the direction of the Nevis Historical and Conservation.

Run by the same organization, is the Horatio Nelson Museum, located just south of Charlestown. Paying tribute to the famous British war hero who married local girl Fanny Nisbet at the Montpelier Estate, exhibits offer a unique perspective of the island’s past with memorabilia, including paintings and ceramics and is recognised as one of the most comprehensive collections of the Admiral’s treasures.

Reggae-lovers should not miss the Bob Marley Museum when in, where else, Jamaica, synonymous with the reggae sounds of the island. An amazing collection of the famous musician’s life and work are housed here. Explore exhibits and learn about the music icon’s lyrics, career highlights, as well as the history of reggae music, at was once Marley’s home and where he recorded his famous music, and remaining much as it was at that time.

Art lovers flock to the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, which boasts an extensive collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica. Don’t miss the permanent exhibit of the late Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, the famous Jamaican sculptor and painter. Additionally, the works of up and coming local and international artists are also showcased.

Built by the French in 1704, the building housing the Grenada National Museum was once part of Fort George and then used by the British as a women’s prison until 1880. Opened in 1976, the museum boasts artifacts of Grenada’s history. Relive the story of the Bianca C, also known as the “Titanic of the Caribbean,” at this popular exhibit, which includes items salvaged from the ship.

St George's Fort in Grenada

While visiting the beautiful Cayman Islands, don’t miss the National Gallery, located at Grand Cayman’s Harbour Place. Housing a permanent and fantastic collection of Caymanian artwork, the museum also boasts the work of local and international artists. Promoting Caymanian heritage, about six new exhibits are presented yearly.

Founded in 1994, is the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, located in Frederiksted’s Historic District on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. One of the missions of the museum is to offer a connection through art to the many cultures of the Caribbean. Don’t miss the magnificent view from the second floor of the island’s west end and the pier. Lovely items at the gift shop make the perfect souvenir, while also helping to support the arts.

Opened in 1985, the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda is operated by the Historical & Archaeological Society and tells the history of the two islands. The building it is situated in, St. John’s Court House, was built in 1750 and is the oldest building on the island. Unique items, such as a life-size replica of an Arawak dwelling, plus ever-changing exhibits are featured at the delightful museum.

Built in 1855, Antigua’s Dockyard Museum is within the Naval Officer’s House in the centre of Nelson’s Dockyard. Highlighting the history of the world’s only continuously working Georgian Dockyard it features exhibits that include archaeological, environmental and historical research. Make a stop before leaving at the lovely Museum Restoration Gift Shop boasts fascinating items to bring back home.

Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua

While your ship is docked in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, you can visit The Amberworld Museum, boasting an amazing amber collection, especially from the Baltic region. Consisting of two rooms, one showcasing the amber with special lighting, and the second, featuring artifacts dating back to the Neolithic Age through Roman times. Visitors are delighted by a replica of some of the décor from the legendary Amber Room in Catherine Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia.

Whether you like culture, history, or are simply looking for another fun experience on your Caribbean cruise, head to the nearest museum while in port. These hidden gems offer something special and you may find your visit will create fabulous memories to last a lifetime.

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